Arcosanti Reformulation Project

I am in Arkansas now and considering the long travel ahead of me to get to Arcosanti and the Memorial for Paolo Soleri. For a long time, I discounted my coming to this event due to financial concerns and other priorities.

What led to the change was the thought that there is chance that something important can be developed for the future of the project. I figured what the hell, its not often I get to be with 150 other people who care enough of Soleri’s vision and dream to come back to a place they once called home – even if for a very short time.

I have also been posting a lot online and privately with a discussion that was initiated by one of the Alum to a list of some of the people attending.

I have also been considering how to formally link Arcosanti and Paolo Soleri with the organization I am trying to get off the ground with Jimi Carnazza – Full Circle Earth.

Arcosanti & Full Circle Earth: To Develop a KnowledgeBase for Compact Urban Themed Sustainable Habitat Development

What I have come up with is a statement on the role of Arcosanti in bringing two of the founders of this organization together and to consider some of the things that can be done to promote Arcosanti and Arcology on a practical level. The reality is that incorporating Arcology theory into practical practice is not an easy thing to do and this is why so few have done it – that I am aware of at least. To consider an applied Arcology model or even a theoretical framework for the dissemination of this idea,  we need to form and build networks with the mix of people needed to actually build such a prototype. In this process, we need to reconsider what Soleri meant by Arcology. We also need to explore how he wanted to implement the first one at Arcosanti as a prototype. So as we consider sustainability and Arcology on a practical level, a lot of questions are going to have to be answered. Its definitely not a job I think we can do alone so if anyone reading has any interest in what I am writing about please contact me (Jeff Buderer: buderman@gmail.com).

(Re)formulating Arcosanti: The Alternative Arcosanti Project as an Start-up KnowledgeBase for Building Sustainable Arcology Themed Developments

So far I have created a wiki called the Alternative Arcosanti Project. Its work in progress – a mish-mash of what I thought were some core ideas of how to or what to consider in (Re)Formulating Arcosanti. So I proposed the name “Arcosanti Reformation Project” as one possible title for the group, rather than just something generic like the Arcosanti Alumni Group.

At the end of his life Soleri talked about the need for something more fundamental in society than incremental reform which seems almost everyone would agree has gotten the progressive no where in terms of improving the overall socioeconomic dynamics of society. Yes Soleri had become a critic of the reform movement and saw it as a failure. That we are not moving forward as a society corruption seems to be growing. Such a trend and relationship between corruption of the society and workshop of money and power as ends to themselves seem very predictable when looking at historical trends. Soleri warned us about the unhealthy worship of money and materials values.

To Create Change You Must BE The Change

Our critical mind might wonder whether Arcosant itself could not have taken more of a leadership in being a model for a more sustainable urban habitat? So my suggestion is that by calling any movement to reform Arcosanti, a (Re)formulation process, we are putting Soleri’s very own prescriptions (or at least in the process considering some of concerns and trying to consider how a culture might be formed around these for building future societies) for fixing society and the world.

We are acknowledging what he had a problem with, while we are taking action where he seemed to be unable to act as a leader. We are empowered with the realization that we must first create a model of change most immediate to us, especially before lecturing the larger society about what is wrong with it. We must be a model of the change we want to see by figuring out how to put those ideals we hold dear into practical practice in our lives – in order to be taken seriously.

So in order for Soleri’s ideals and vision to survive of not just Arcosanti but Arcology itself, we must see that Arcosanti and Arcology must be reformatted or reformulated. From that process what needs to emerge is:

  1. A solid, consistent and compassionate ideology for changing not just the built environment but the very nature of what we see as our humanity.
  2. This ideology must not be classroom and neither should it be workplace based.
  3. The success of the movement will be based on the development of powerful human relationships and bonds within the process of living and working together to build the Worlds First Prototype Arcology.

In the above-mentioned process an “Arcology Ideology” can be truly birthed as something that is not seeking to impose things on people as one person’s ego-centric impulse, but getting us to more deeply to think about how we might actually work together effectively with others as part of their shared interest in “building” a healthy and prosperous humanity.

 Notes and References

Recent Bay Area TEDx Sustainable Cities Series Features Presentations on Arcology

Last Saturday, Cosanti Foundation president Jeff Stein presented at an event organized by a group based in SF called TEDxMission. The name of this particular event was called TEDxMission 2.0 The City. It featured discussions with leaders in the sustainability field. There was a specific focus on innovative ideas and technologies relating to urban design (and particularly in terms of the Bay Area): “to share the powerful narratives of urban innovators and organizers, stewards and artists, builders and tastemakers.”

Besides Stein, the other speakers I recognized were (my thought is that these people could be a potential network resource for making Arcosanti more sustainable):

  • Brock Dolman is a permaculture expert who is well known on the west coast. He is a Occidential Arts & Ecology Center Lecturer  (OAEC) in Occidental CA and a guest lecturer at the Regenerative Design Institute in nearby Bolinas. Sewing Circle is an intentional community  small ecovillage/intentional community that is interwoven with OAEC similar to the way Cosanti Foundation is with Cosanti Originals at Arcosanti.
  • Geoff Lawton excited a lot of people by what he was able to achieve in Jordan on a dryland permaculture project that showed much was possible even in a very desolate desert environment. Considering the challenge that Arcosanti faces in growing food in a similar climate, he might be a great link towards increasing agricultural productivity.
  • James Hanusa has been active in the Bay Area Sustainability community. We crossed paths via the Global Summit 2010 at Fort Mason in San Francisco. Currently he is CEO of the Urban Innovation Exchange a SF “economic development organization that co-creates innovation ecosystems rooted in sustainability and culture with an experiential approach.” Most recently according to their website, they enabled a design charette between Rio and San Francisco for the Bay2Rio+20 Group. Hanusa is doing work that seems to fit well with Michael Gosney’s presentation to TEDxMission at an earlier event: “Designing the Control Panel for Spaceship Earth.

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